Have you ever wondered why you weigh what you do? Is your weight inherited from your parents? Do you not like to exercise or do you eat too many “bad” foods? Is your weight due to the stress of your job?
Truthfully, body weight is determined by multiple factors – some that can’t be changed (like genetics) and some that can, like our behaviors and the decisions we make.
Looking at Life Events
One theory from the social sciences, known as the life course perspective, would encourage you to reflect on your weight by looking at how you have grown and changed over time. This perspective suggests that the patterns in your weight over time are due to a combination of many mental, physical, and social factors that are experienced throughout life.
Your biology can influence your physiology and metabolism, which then influences your appetite, how you burn calories, and how you store fat.
Biological changes can come from:
- Aging (loss of muscle mass and a slowing metabolism)
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Not enough sleep
- Underlying health conditions
- Taking certain medications
- Quitting smoking
Healthy eating and physical activity can be affected by many social and habitual factors:
- Jobs and commute time
- Family holidays
- Neighborhood environment
- Income level
This category also includes environments with many high-calorie and tempting foods that are available around the clock. Some people have limited access to healthy food and places where it is safe to do leisurely activities such as walking the dog.
How we react to and cope with the events in our lives can also impact our weight. Someone with positive coping styles probably has self-help strategies that include problem-solving, seeking support, and emotional expression to deal with stress. On the other hand, someone with negative coping styles may avoid the problem, withdraw from their social circles, criticize themselves, or disengage (like spending more time on the couch).
Negative coping is also associated with:
- Stress eating and eating disorders
- Weight gain
By looking at the events in your life that have shaped your thoughts and circumstances, you can learn from your past and use those lessons to help you manage your weight and your health as a whole. This may also help you achieve greater self-awareness and understanding of your weight, which can then help you reduce self-blame, increase self-compassion, and have a more targeted approach to weight management.
For more information on this topic, Click Here for an article from the Obesity Action Coalition.